Manchester bus strikes continue!
Bus workers at RATP-owned at Go North West have launched a fresh wave of strikes against fire-and-rehire, after negotiations between management and Unite officials collapsed earlier this week. Management at Go North West plans to fire approximately 500 workers and rehire them with a 10 percent pay cut and significantly reduced terms and conditions. Over 400 bus workers have been on a continuous strike for five weeks. This is less than a fortnight after Unite officials called off strikes at RATP-owned bus companies in the South East – a betrayal, and one which has unfortunately left striking workers in Manchester isolated.
The militancy of rank and file bus workers in Manchester is evidenced by their second refusal of a deal and their willingness to sustain the strike. However, militancy alone may not be enough. They need to link up with other RAPT workers across the nation and continue to apply pressure on the bosses to end the fire and rehire tactic for good.
Pimlico Academy: School students strike
Hundreds of school students at Pimlico Academy walked out of their classes on Thursday 1 April in response to a racist school uniform policy that stated Afro-Carribean hair ‘blocks the view of others’ and that hijabs ‘should not be too colourful’. The walk-out comes after the National Education Union (NEU) released news that its members at the school had voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of a no-confidence motion in headteacher Daniel Smith.
Pimlico Academy has a long and proud history when it comes to student organisation and militancy, and this recent walk-out is the culmination of a series of workplace disputes at the school. Students and unionised teachers, many of whom participated in the wildcat walk-out, have shown a remarkably united front against school management; so much so the policy was recently redrafted to exclude explicitly racist language.
Fighting fire and rehire at British Gas
British Gas engineers across the country have launched a fresh wave of strikes against threats that up to 10,000 workers at the company will be fired and rehired on reduced pay and terms and conditions. The engineers, who are members of GMB union, will walk out for four days, taking the number of strikes this year to 38. GMB officials have cited the impact that the new contracts will have on safe working practices, which will further endanger British Gas workers during the pandemic.
The engineers first made headlines late last year, and have enjoyed much publicity and mass support for their strike actions. Coupled with their willingness to maintain and build strike action, this publicity and support provides workers at British Gas with a solid basis for escalation. But workers must be under no illusion: this escalation will not come from the GMB bureaucracy, but from the organisation of the rank and file workers themselves.